Weekly Wellness: Why am I overeating?
As most of us know, in order to lose weight we need to balance out exercising with eating appropriately. Eating "appropriately" can mean both eating the right things and eating the right amounts.
If you feel like you have been paying attention to your diet and you still can't seem to shed the pounds, this list of tips might help you to identify what could be going wrong...
Is your diet too restrictive? If you are eating nothing but grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables, this is not a long-term sustainable plan. You can get to the point where you feel miserable and crave all the foods you have been depriving yourself of (which can backfire). Try the 80/20 approach to eating: eating healthy, whole foods most of the time (about 80 percent of the time), and 20 percent indulgence foods you love.
Are you eating trigger foods? Can you eat one cookie from the package and stop? Can you eat one chip from the bag and stop? Most registered dietitians wouldn't recommend cutting out a food group, but this might be the only instance where avoiding a food is helpful in preventing overeating. Some people are more susceptible to food addiction, so if this sounds like you, avoiding highly-addictive foods like sugar and flour will actually eliminate your cravings for them.
Do you eat on the go? When you don't take time to sit down and eat and really enjoy your food, your brain may not register that you're satisfied so you'll end up reaching for more food. Schedule times to eat, savor each bite, and you'll be better able to listen to your body's cues.
Are your meals balanced? There is a reason why we talk about having a "well-balanced meal." Our bodies need protein and carbs and healthy fats. That's how we properly fuel our bodies. When we don't get the nutrients we need, we can feel hungry again quicker. Eating all three (especially the healthy fats) will keep you satisfied for hours.
Do you eat while distracted? Eating on your lunch break in front of your computer or while watching TV are common reasons for overeating. When we eat without paying attention, we tend to faster and more than we should.
Is your pantry stocked with trigger foods? If you keep chocolate, chips, cookies, ice cream, and candy in your house, it's much harder to say no when you know they're there. Out of sight, out of mind.
Are you waiting too long to eat? If too much time passes between meals, when you DO finally eat, you may eat faster and more than you normally would have. Don't ignore those feelings of hunger when you feel them - grab a small snack to hold you over until your next meal.
Do you eat too fast? Inhaling your food too quickly will make you consume way more calories than you need, and can leave you feeling unsatisfied. While you're eating, slow down (remember that old tip about putting your fork down between bites?). If you find that you're full, wrap up your remaining food and put it in the fridge for later or share it with someone else.
What is the size of your plate? There have been a number of studies done about this and I find them all fascinating. When we have larger plates to fill, we tend to fill them (go figure!). When we use smaller plates, we take smaller portions.
Do you eat your emotions? If you turn toward food when you're stressed, upset, or even happy, these powerful emotions can make you feel out of control and cause you to eat foods you normally wouldn't in amounts that are much larger. Find ways to cope with your emotions without food.
Are you eating when you're bored? Some of us who have too much free time on our hands, you're not busy or challenged in some way with a sense of purpose, your mind will move to food. Try to keep busy (without food).
Do you listen to your body? Eating when you're actually hungry is one of the most important factors when it comes to preventing overeating. If you're not hungry but you eat just because it's noon, or because your spouse is eating, or because a co-worker brought in cupcakes, than you're not honoring your own body's hunger cues.
Now that we are entering the “season of eating” it’s even more important that we pay attention to what and how we are eating.